In the fourth episode of season three of Beyond the Canvas, we feature five Black women artists who are paving the way. While Black women have often been excluded and discriminated against when trying to enter the art world, these creators have fought back against that to forge new paths. Many of them have engaged directly with that history of racism, sexism, and other pressing issues.
First, we connect with Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Nikole-Hannah Jones- whose groundbreaking 1619 Project at the New York Times pushed us to rethink America’s beginnings and engage more deeply with the realities of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Faced with criticism of her work, Hannah-Jones has held her position and even expanded her argument into a book that features the voices and works of more Black journalists, writers, photographers, and other artists.
Also featured in this episode is the creative team of the documentary series “High on the Hog,” including producers Fabienne Toback and Karis Jagger. Through their conscientious work on an adaptation of the best-selling book, Toback and Jagger showed the path of influence from Africa to the Americans and invited audiences to explore the impact Black people around the world have had on American cuisine.
Next, we hear from Oscar-award winning actress Regina King. As the director of the film “One Night in Miami,” she sought to capture the intricacies and nuances of the Civil Rights Movement’s Black thought leaders in a compelling, innovative way. King herself has committed to increasing the representation of Black people on screen and behind the camera.
We also speak with the artists behind an exhibition in Breonna Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. As her name echoed in the streets during protests in response to her murder, many artists felt compelled to capture the tensions and sorrow of the moment through their art. This exhibition proudly honors Taylor while pushing museum goers to think more deeply about race and racism in their city.
Finally, we hear best-selling author Roxane Gay’s Brief But Spectacular take on ways of being heard. Through writing about her body, race, gender, sexuality, and other difficult subjects, she has not only found a way to navigate her own trauma but give voice to others- even if their experiences don’t exactly mirror her own.
Not only do each of these artists share the experience of being a Black woman in a world that has often silenced and marginalized them, but they also share the determination and creativity to make art that will make a difference in their communities, their fields, and ultimately, the world. Through powerful and impactful art, they challenge exclusive norms and pave the way for more Black women artists for decades to come.
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